Canned Sales Presentations Just Don’t Work Today

Flip charts and slides shows (“canned presentations”) make the best sales product or service promotions because, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” right? Well it depends!

Stanford University’s Research Institute’s VALS study (values, altitudes and life styles) lists five distinct psychographic categories (personalities) or buying decision-making modes. What the Stanford research means to you as a sales manager is that a given picture may not appeal to one or more of the buying mind-sets (Belongers, Achiever, Emulator, etc.) outlined in the study. Using a flip chart or slides as your primary presentation tool can cost you sales, especially if you just walk through each page or play each slide as an outline of your products or service’s features and benefits.

Flip charts and slide presentations must be generic by nature and rarely focus on a decision-maker’s specific needs except for a few slides or pages. From the Stanford research, using this selling approach means that you have one chance in five of appealing to your decision-maker’s primary buying mode depending on the layout and copy theme of the slides or chart.

Slide shows or flip chart presentations are valuable tools if used to highlight specific selling points–points based in the information that your staff members uncover from their in-depth probing (using a consultative selling system) of a prospective customer or client’s needs. The myth of using a “canned sales pitch” and the field-tested and proven selling methods to replace defective techniques are outlined in the “best selling” 101 Sales Myths manual published by The $elling Edge┬«, Inc. (http://TheSellingEdge.com/myths3.htm) The techniques listed are are based in a proven consultative selling process that eliminates most of the fear and pressure associated with traditional presentation approaches.

Presenting Innovation in a Way That Gets to ‘Yes’

In the innovation field, the closest thing we have to a professional association is the InnovationNetwork and its annual Convergence conference (produced in partnership with the Institute for International Research), which just took place in Minneapolis. I’m on a plane heading home to California as I write this, and I have to say, this was the best conference I’ve attended in quite some time.

The talk in the hallways was about the up-tick in the number of companies launching innovation makeovers. Just as some of us predicted, as the global economy has improved and CEOs get past their hunker down/cut costs/survival mentality, the question of how to drive growth begins to dog them. But getting senior management to take action on innovation often needs a catalyst.

To address this issue at Convergence, I led a CEO/Senior Management Panel titled “How to Present Innovation in a Way That Gets to Yes”. We jettisoned the traditional panel discussion draped table and moderator podium and replaced it with a more dynamic talk show format. It went well, and was very well received. Guests on the lighthearted program included Carol Pletcher, Cargill Innovation Officer; Stephen N. Oesterle, M.D., Senior Vice President Medicine and Technology, Medtronic, Inc; Virginia Albanese, Vice President of Service, FedEx Custom Critical; and Alex Cirillo, head of 3M Commercial Graphics.

Championing innovation as a driver of growth

In my opening monologue, I noted that each time another company says yes to innovation, you can be sure there was a champion at work behind that decision. And quite often a team of committed people as well. They did their homework. Amassed the evidence. And made the case for embarking on a new approach to innovation as a way to drive growth.

With PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Accenture surveys showing that innovation has risen to the top of CEO priorities, you might think this would be easy. It isn’t. CEOs know there is a great need to master innovation. But there’s a lot of trepidation.

Top-line vs. bottom-line growth

As a result, companies have long favored interventions and initiatives that promise immediate returns: lean manufacturing, TQM, reengineering, Six Sigma and scores of others. These process improvements, none of which are easy to implement, have the benefit of showing short-term cost-savings, and elimination of inefficiency, the need for fewer staffers. They are, therefore, easier for consultants from outside and/or advocates on the inside to sell to the guys in the head shed. But here’s what is not often clear: they do nothing to create top-line growth. They only improve the bottom line, and after awhile you run out of places to cut.

Oh sure, you can achieve growth from mergers and acquisitions, thus the M&A boom of the1990s. Guess who did a phenomenal job of selling CEOs on that strategy? Banks, lawyers, accounting firms, M&A consultants, etc. The only problem: study after study demonstrates this is a strategy fraught with problems of integrating incompatible cultures, and turf battles. But the big aha is that they just don’t create shareholder value, as longitudinal studies by McKinsey and others clearly demonstrate. Again: innovation is the only way to unlock organic growth, and the only way to sustain it is with an innovation strategy that has metrics, is comprehensive, involves the whole enterprise and is cross-functional and cross-silo.

Innovation initiatives require patience, commitment

Innovation will never be an easy sell because it can’t promise a quick payback. It took agribusiness giant Cargill, for example, almost a year of internal debate and study of best practices in innovation before folks there got clear on how they even should define it. With almost 100,000 employees, they knew it was a journey, but that they had to start somewhere if they were going to transform the organization. And as the feisty and outspoken Carol Pletcher, Cargill’s innovation maven, told the audience at Convergence, now they are on their way.

Cargill has the advantage of being a privately-held company. Many CEOs of publicly-traded firms, with Wall Street ever more impatient for steady quarterly earnings, are apt to be gun shy. Innovation conjures up sinkholes of investment and missed earnings – and too soon the ax. So if you’re in an organization that hasn’t yet gotten to yes, you’re going to have to overcome a lot of what professional salespeople call objections, both real and imagined.

Building a winning case for innovation

How can you make a stronger case for innovation? How can you present innovation in a way that gets to yes? By doing your homework. By keeping current on this ever-evolving field and knowing what works and what doesn’t. By constant benchmarking of what other innovation-adept companies are doing, and finding out. And by selling benefits (growth, transformation, talent retention), not features (it works like this, isn’t this clever, etc.).

Most important of all, it’s essential to identify and reference companies that are enjoying the fruits of their systematic approach to innovation. Whirlpool, for instance, added a whopping $100 million in top line revenue during the first 12 months of launching its now-famous innovation initiative. Deloitte-Touche Tomatsu of South Africa doubled the size of its enterprise within two years of launching InnovationZone, its idea capture system. And companies like 3M and Medtronic cite innovation for their success year after year. By building the case for innovation, it won’t be long before other firms come to you, wanting to know how you did it!

Robert B. Tucker is president of The Innovation Resource, and an internationally recognized leader in the field of innovation. Formerly an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, Tucker has been a consultant and keynote speaker since 1986. Clients include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies as well as clients in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Australia. He frequently contributes to publications such as the Journal of Business Strategy, Strategy & Leadership, and Harvard Management Update. He has appeared on PBS, CBS News, and was a featured guest on the CNBC series The Business of Innovation. Learn more about Robert’s latest work, Innovation is Everybody’s Business, at:

Benefits of Using Trade Show Rentals For Your Presentation Needs

Companies spend millions of dollars each year to advertise their products. Advertising is a very powerful tool to make your company or product known. When done effectively, it will generate an income that is many times bigger than your advertising cost. However, it can also be very expensive especially for small companies or those who are only starting out on the business.

Other than advertising in televisions, radios and print, a cheaper and yet very effective alternative of presenting your company and products to the consumers is to join exhibits and trade shows.
There are many advantages to using rentals for your trade exhibit. Unless your company has a big budget, going into trade shows can be costly especially that items put on display are prone to damage, as well as the equipments that are used.

Unless you attend trade shows often as part of your company’s marketing efforts, show rentals are a cost effective alternative. If you purchase a new one and have a need to change it often, it could take up a big chunk on your earnings that would otherwise go to your company’s profit and can be used for other important investments.

Instead of buying your own display for your first series of trade shows, renting is a more practical idea as it will give you an idea how much income you will be able to generate in attending these exhibits to present your products to the market. As displays and equipments require a big investment, you don’t want to spend a big fortune and find out later that the income generated does not meet your expectation or at least give you a break even for your costs.

Using trade show rentals allow you to display your product, company and logo without the commitment of big investment and commitment to a specific format. It gives you the flexibility so you can customize your display every time. You do not have to stick to one display in all of your exhibits and this in turn, will create an interest in your target market.

With trade show rentals, you can check different designs and layouts to see if it matches the look you want to achieve for your display. It also gives you the freedom to experiment on the size of your booth without the need to worry about how much money it will cost.

If a layout does not work for you on one show, you can easily change it for the next show. All you need to do is purchase or get new panels to match the new design.

Companies that offer trade show rentals often have branches and offices in key cities so if you attend a series of trade shows and exhibits that would require you to move across the country or in different cities, you can be assured that all your exhibit display needs will be there in one piece. You no longer have to worry about pieces or parts getting lost or damaged as the trade show rental companies will often replace them for you or have them fixed.